Name

she writes under the pen name J. K. Rowling, her name, before her remarriage, was Joanne Rowling. Anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers asked that she use two initials rather than her full name. As she had no middle name, she chose K (for Kathleen) as the second initial of her pen name, from her paternal grandmother. During the Leveson Inquiry she gave evidence under the name of Joanne Kathleen Rowling and  her name also as Joanne Kathleen Rowling.

Life and career

Birth and family

Rowling was born to Peter James Rowling, a Rolls-Royceaircraft engineer,and Anne Rowling (née Volant), a science technician, on 31 July 1965 in Yate Gloucestershire, England, 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Bristol. Her parents first met on a train departing from  King’s Cross Station bound for Arbroath in 1964.  One of her maternal great-grandfathers, Dugald Campbell, was Scottish, born in  Lamlash on the Isle of Arran. They married on 14 March 1965. Her mother’s paternal grandfather, Louis Volant, was French, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for exceptional bravery in defending the village of Courcelles-le-comte during the First World War. Rowling originally believed he had won the  Legion d’honneur during the war, as she said when she received it herself in 2009. She later discovered the truth when featured in an episode of the UK genealogy series in which she found out it was a different Louis Volant who won the Legion of Honour. When she heard his story of bravery and discovered the croix de guerre was for “ordinary” soldiers like her grandfather, who had been a waiter, she stated the croix de guerre was “better” to her than the Legion of Honour.

 

Childhood

Rowling’s childhood home, Church Cottage,Tutshill, Gloucestershire

Rowling’s sister Dianne was born at their home when Rowling was 23 months old. The family moved to the nearby village Winterbourne when Rowling was four.  As a child, Rowling often wrote fantasy stories which she frequently read to her sister. Aged nine, Rowling moved to Church Cottage in the Gloucestershire village of Tutshill, close to Chepstow, Wales. When she was a young teenager, her great-aunt gave her a copy of  Jessica Mitford’s autobiography, Hons and Rebels. Mitford became Rowling’s heroine, and Rowling read all of her books.

Rowling has said that her teenage years were unhappy. Her home life was complicated by her mother’s diagnosis with  multiple Sclerosis and a strained relationship with her father, with whom she is not on speaking terms. Rowling later said that she based the character of Hermione Granger on herself when she was eleven. Sean Harris, her best friend in the Upper sixth owned a turquoise Ford Anglia which she says inspired a flying version that appeared in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

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